Mr. Hutchinson argued the widespread vaccination increases could be achieved by measures like increasing community engagement and sending trusted messengers to talk to people about the inoculations. Arkansas has one of the country’s lowest vaccination rates; about 39 percent of the eligible population have not received even a single shot.
Some public health experts argued that the Biden plan could potentially do more harm than good. “I think that the downside of this mandate — in terms of hardening positions, and taking something that was subtly political and making it overtly political — could outweigh any of the benefits we hope to achieve,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said on the CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Dr. Gottlieb pointed to the nation’s current vaccination rate for adult Americans, arguing that, even with other childhood immunizations, which are mandated, “we are not going to get above 90 percent.” About 74 percent of eligible Americans have received one dose or more, according to data compiled by The New York Times.
And he said the federal mandate could deter companies from requiring the vaccine while they await the verdict on the promised legal challenges.
“In the near term, a lot of businesses that might have mandated vaccines are now going to sit on their hands and say, ‘I’m going to wait for OSHA to tell me just how to do it and give me more political cover,’” Dr. Gottlieb said. “So in the near term, it could actually discourage some vaccination.”